Issues with Walnut Plywood cutting through consistently

#1

Has anyone else had issues with the proof grade walnut plywood cutting through consistently? I can cut through all other materials consistently without issues but after only a couple cuts of walnut, my printer head is usually unusable even after cleaning it between projects.

I am concerned if this is an issue for many others or how is this only an issue for me? I am using the proof grade settings and not changing anything. And as I said it is only with walnut the machine seems to have issues with (and this is my second GF). I received my replacement GF only two days ago and I have made 4 prints since then with walnut and my printer head is already unusable. This was happening with my first machine as well. I could always rely on maple and all other materials to run through without problems, but with walnut for some reason, each time it causes problems with cutting through.

Just really curious if I am alone in this.

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#2

What do you mean by that? Is it dirty or damaged & in need of replacement?

If it’s the latter, you’re the first to post with that problem.

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#3

It is unusable and I had to replace it. It has a spot on it that will not come off when I try to clean it.

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#4

There are some other threads about this issue:

  1. density of the wood itself varies throughout a board–including very dense knots; but
  2. Plywood is thin layers or wood (or MDF core) and glue, and the glue can have pockets, so in addition to the variation in the wood density, you now have the variation in the glue that can contribute to consistency.

And be sure the board is perfectly flat and tight against the crumb tray. (this applies to any material you’re cutting or etching).

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#5

So the lens needs to be replaced, not the whole head. Right?

Is your air assist fan working (do you see the smoke when cutting blow away from the cut)?

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#6

Yes, I always have the materials flat and I haven’t noticed any big knots. Could be the glue and just the fact that all materials cut different. I get it.

I was just curious if anyone was having as severe issues with walnut as I am. I have used laser cutters for a decade now and I’ve never run this issue before. I love love love my GF and was hoping for insights on possibly cutting through walnut with better success.

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#7

Yes. That is correct. Only the lens needed to be replaced. And the fan is working.

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#8

I apologize for the bad wording on the first post. I’m having issues with the lens getting so dirty/damaged that I have to replace it often after cutting walnut.

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#9

I love the PG walnut, have used a lot of it, no problems with my lens. That’s really weird!

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#10

I haven’t had any issues lately, but it’s certainly possible to get a bad batch once in a while…even on the Proofgrade stuff. Even more likely is swelling/warping from long term storage though…I have to fight that battle constantly due to the humidity levels around here.

Have you tried slowing the speed down by a few points (5-10), or using a pick to check for complete cut through before moving the backing material? If you do that, you can send the cut a second time at a higher speed and finish up the cut. (Just make sure you don’t let the material move, or move the image on the screen.)

I’m curious when you are cleaning the lens and reinserting it…are you making sure to put it back in correctly? Putting it in upside down will affect cutting and can damage the lens. (The bowl shaped side goes up into the head from the bottom. Flat side is down pointing at the bed.) Used to be a common mistake…they might have markings on the lens now.

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#11

Thank you. I’ll definitely try lowering the speed of it next time. And yes, I always double check the correct orientation of the lens before reinserting it back.

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#12

I have had a lot of issues with my last batch of the walnut being slightly warped. You couldn’t really tell be eye but if you pushed on the board you could feel it. If it is flat you shouldn’t feel the board move at all. But it is easily fixed with hold down pins or just flip it so the high points are on the outside and use a bit of tape to hold it down.

How often are you cleaning your lens? The PG plywood has a mdf core so it requires you to clean much more often do to the amount of build up that happens when using mdf.

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#13

PG material should never damage a lens. If the lens is not cleaned when it’s dirty then the laser could ruin a lens. Burned a lot of walnut ply and saw zero difference between it and other plys. The walnut uses the same core and has a very very thin walnut veneer.

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#14

I know this and that is why I clean my lense between every other cut when using walnut. Maybe I just got a bad patch of materials if that’s a thing. Keeping my fingers crossed it won’t keep happening. Like I’ve said before I have been using and maintaining laser cutters over a decade and just never experienced this issue before. Bad luck I guess it’s what it is starting to sound like on my part.

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#15

Surprises me. Had my current unit for almost 18 months. Average user, lots of walnut ply. Original lens is pristine. Thought I needed to replace it due to pitting about a year ago and ordered a replacement. Turns out it was just some stubborn spatters that came off with a little fingernail action through Zeiss wipes.

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#16

Wow. Maybe I’m being too soft on my lense. I’ll try a bit tougher cleaning on it tonight.

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#17

try soaking it in isopropyl alcohol for awhile before you start aggressively wiping.

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#18

Ok. Great. Thanks for the suggestion!

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#19

I’m so sorry you’re having trouble with the walnut.

Can you send photos of the front and back of any prints that aren’t cutting all the way through?

And could you share some photos of all the clean optics?

  • both windows
  • the lens
  • the 45 degree mirror
  • the bottom of your print head

(You can post them here, or email to us at support@glowforge.com .)

I’d be happy to take a look.

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#20

Ok. Here are the images. Thank you for your help.

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